Review of the Annual Meeting 2008 in Genève

This year annual meeting took place on Wednesday 26 - Tuesday 27 March 2008 at the Université de Genève, in the building of Uni Mail. Thanks to the joint organization with the three NCCR programs of MaNEP, NANO and Quantum Photonics about 500 persons attended the meeting. This large number was confirmed by very well attended sessions. The plenary session was a great success with 4 outstanding talks by Tilman Esslinger (ETHZ) on Bose-Einstein Condensation, Christian Schönenberger (UNIBS) on Molecular Electronics, Albert Fert (Université Paris Sud, Nobel laureate 2007) on Spintronics and finally by Gaetano Mileti (UNINE) on recent advances on time and frequency measurements. In addition to the sessions on Astro- Particle and Nuclear Physics (TASK), Condensed Matter Physics (KOND) and Applied Physics (ANDO), sessions on the physics of atoms and lasers, on plasma physics and newly on theoretical physics (cf. below) were organized. Noteworthy was also the program on multiferroics organized within MaNEP jointly with PSI-SLS.

The SPS General Assembly took place on Wednesday and the SPS Award Ceremony on Thursday with the attribution of the three 2007 SPS prizes followed by the best papers awards of the "Annales Henri Poincaré" for 2005 and 2006.

The lively poster sessions and the scientific exhibition with 12 companies were located in the large main hall of Uni Mail and professionnally set up by the local organizers. More then hundred participants went to visit the Science History Museum of Geneva on Wednesday night, enjoying the interesting guided tour, the apéro and the beautiful view on the lake. Then the whole group gathered at the restaurant “Vieux-Bois – Ecole Hotelière” where an excellent dinner was enjoyed in a convivial atmosphere.

We would like to thank here all the organizers of this meeting, the University of Geneva for allowing us to use its lecture halls, the Swiss Academy of Sciences, the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, and the various sponsors (ABB, IBM, OC Oerlikon) who made it possible and successful as it was. We are very grateful to the local organizers of the meeting, in particular Dook van Mechelen and Renald Cartoni who took care with great engagement of all the details.

A nice piece of art under the roof of the Uni Mail hall.
Prof. Albert Fert, Nobel laureate 2007, gave an interesting talk in the plenary session.
Summary of the Session "Theoretical Physics"
The winners of the AHP Prizes 2005 and 2006 and two representatives from the Birkhäuser Verlag (left) and Institut Henri Poincaré (right).

In the past SPS meetings, theoretical physics has often not had a separate session. Instead, theoretical talks were part of the respective sessions on the different subfields. Theoretical physics research is often located on the boundaries of different subfields, and frequently methods are shared. It was believed that theoretical physics should become an independent session at the SPS meeting. For the session senior speakers from different subfields were invited and young researchers from all areas of theoretical physics encouraged to submit abstracts. As a result, the 'Theoretical Physics' session at SPS 2008 brought together a wide variety of high quality talks from different subfields.

Invited talks were given by Charalampos Anastasiou (ETHZ) on the upcoming LHC particle physics programme at CERN and by Ruth Durrer (UNIGE) on the status and open questions of precision cosmology. Moreover, the session hosted the invited presentations of the best paper winners of the "Annales Henri Poincaré Prize" for 2005 (A. V. Sobolev) and 2006 (G. Benfatto, A. Giuliani, V. Mastopietro) on developments in mathematical physics.

In addition to the invited talks, a total of 22 talks by young researchers were presented during the session, with topics from particle theory, astrophysics, cosmology, mathematical physics, complex systems and condensed matter theory. With 25 to 50 people in the audience the whole session was very well attended. It was a unique opportunity to bring together theoretical physics researchers from different subfields and different institutions across Switzerland. Very often, the talks sparked lively discussions, illustrating that theoretical physics research is not restricted to specific subfields.

Thomas Gehrmann, Uni Zürich

Some impressions from the "Musée d'histoire des sciences" and the conference dinner